The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


P.J. Krass

Prince Potemkin


In my happy plastic village
every footpath glows with a cardboard smile,
a polyester heart lights the great white way.
When the princess arrives, everybody say cheese.
When the rains descend, we’ll cover everything
that melts. No barbaric yawp may drown
out the pump-fed river’s sweetest song.
The digitally projected cerulean sky
shall admit no actual cloud.

Once I cantered a stallion,
real as a cresting wave.
Now I’m frightened by what’s factual.
Flesh feels too fleshy. Blood’s
too filled with blood.
Give me instead a red rubber nose,
long gangly shoes, blue shock of hair.
I know the greasepaint’s only skin-deep.
That’s depth enough for me.



P.J. Krass

New York Relics


Ratner’s Dairy ruled our kasha kingdom:
kreplach, borscht and blintz.
Chez Brigitte fed two hundred hungry souls,
eleven diners at a time.

Now a dozen neutered condos sexlessly engorge.
Glass facade reflects glass facade, faces bland
as Wonder Bread. Precious shops push
overpriced baubles, serving manufactured needs.

On the fire escape, even the wind chimes
know their days are numbered.
They don’t dare ring after 10.
In the gutter, a flood tide of Champagne

and blood — mortgage-backed, securitized —
flows with the gush of Wall Street piss
mixed with sweaty froth from a billionaire’s palm.
Like a Gem Spa egg cream,

I hang on, a relic,
neither egg nor cream, just
the sidewalk’s joshing seltzer,
the pavement’s wholesome milk.

Above, a star that used to be
burns across the sky.
Surely, we must be brothers.
I wave, expecting no reply.




P.J. KRASS is a freelance editor and writer, and he teaches creative writing at The Writers Studio in New York. His poetry has appeared in New Verse News, Rattle, Atlanta Review and elsewhere. His poem “All Dressed in Green,” recently received a Pushcart Prize special mention. He’s also the poetry co-editor of 'The Writers Studio at 30,' an anthology published by Epiphany Editions celebrating The Writers Studio's 30th anniversary.



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